Several countries have anti-corruption legislation, but few extend this legislation to fight corruption alongside foreign authorities outside their territory. Brazil, incidentally, is in the second group of countries having such norms in its set of laws.
Even so, the existence of anti-corruption laws or even the existence of courts specialized in corruption (which is already a reality in many countries) is not enough. Effective monitoring and especially the enforcement of the law is crucial. Impunity stands as the worst example in the fight against corruption, in addition to the absence of specific norms and austere disciplinary measures.
At the end of 2022, the Transparency International, a leading non-governmental organization working globally to monitor the progress against corruption in each country, has published the report of a study regarding how countries are evolving in the enforcement of their anti-corruption laws abroad.
Unfortunately, the result was disappointing. Only two countries were identified with real progress in this regard: Switzerland and the USA. Of the 47 assessed countries, the degrees of progress identified are as follows:
Indeed, the report disclosed a significant reduction in the effort to fight corruption and in the inspection against foreign authorities in most countries. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been an obstacle to progress in this regard, a downward trend was already being seen before its occurrence in 2020.
On the other hand, an advance in international standards was identified, as shown in the table below:
The study resulted in the following conclusions:
1. Enforcement continues to decline significantly.
2. No country is exempt from bribery by its nationals and related money laundering.
3. Inadequacies remain in legal frameworks and enforcement systems.
4. Most countries fail to publish adequate enforcement information.
5. Victims’ compensation is rare but there are a few positive developments.
6. International cooperation is increasing but still faces significant obstacles.
According to the table below, the difference in the number of investigated cases in the US and Switzerland compared to the other 45 countries in the study is striking:
Table 1: INVESTIGATIONS AND CASES (2018-2021)
Finally, Transparency International listed the following recommendations that should be observed to improve the enforcement of laws:
1. Address weaknesses in legal frameworks and enforcement systems, and give higher priority to enforcement against foreign bribery as well as related money-laundering offenses and accounting violation.
2. Ensure transparency of information on enforcement against foreign bribery.
3. Expand the OECD Working Group on Bribery’s (WGB) annual report on enforcement, and create a public database of foreign bribery investigations and cases.
4. Introduce victims’ compensation as a standard practice.
5. Closely monitor the use of non-trial resolutions.
6. Support stronger national systems for cross-border cooperation and explore the expansion of international structures.